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Friday, August 13, 2010

Symphony gets hot in July

As July was moving into its hottest phase of the summer, the Shreveport musicians of the city's own orchestra were hammering out a rescue package to keep the symphony alive as an organization. The efforts were productive, as an agreement was reached to prolong the existence of the SSO for another 2 years, in a reduced format, as far as investment of time and money. The cut of the core musicians' salaries by 45% was a major feature, which might or might not be the end of the symphony as we know it. Let's see what transpires in the next two years. The phoenix might yet arise out of the ashes! Here is the scoop as portrayed by the Shreveport Times on July 19, 2010:

Shreveport Symphony board, musicians reach agreement

By Donecia Pea • • July 19, 2010

Symphony board president Richard Bremer had barely gotten the words out before the applause erupted Monday morning.

"It is my pleasure to announce that the board and musicians have entered a new two-year agreement…" Bremer said, kicking off the first of many rounds of applause among the packed house at the Symphony House.

After more than two years of contentious negotiations, including an 18-month strike and this past spring's mini-season, board members and musicians have agreed to a contract that will keep the full-time core musicians intact and include a 45 percent salary cut, instead of the initial contract proposal two years ago that would have included a 75 percent pay cut.

The contract takes effect immediately and will run through May 31, 2012.

"The key thing for us is that the full-time core musicians remained intact. There were a few other things, like travel costs for out-of-town musicians. But the main thing that was important to us was maintaining the core professional musicians," said musicians' spokesman and principal trumpet player Rick Rowell.

"The pay cut is not the best, but it's better than it could have been. We found a middle ground."

The press conference included a parade of officials from symphony board chairwoman and longtime symphony supporter Virginia Shehee and symphony music director Michael Butterman to Shreveport Mayor Cedric Glover, as they expressed their thanks and excitement for the new season.

The first concert is set for Nov. 13. More details on that concert will be announced.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Triumphant return of the Shreveport Symphony

Good news of the cultural variety has arrived from The Times of Shreveport, Louisiana. The first concert following a prolonged strike of over one year took place on the weekend, and by all reports, it was a great success. May this portend well for the future.

January 31, 2010

Full house, high spirits greet symphony’s return

Player-management talks are ongoing

By John Andrew Prime

The program for the return of the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra to the local arts horizon Saturday featured an all-Tchaikovsky lineup, but it could have included a song by pop singer and songwriter James Taylor.

After all, he had a hit in “Traffic Jam,” and that’s what greeted people at Riverview Theater on Clyde Fant Memorial Parkway: car after car, driving in slow but large circles, looking for that elusive parking space, and a throng pouring through the doors.

General manager Leah Escude estimated the crowd would be close to the full house of about 1,600, a major accomplishment for the orchestra that for more than a year has been silent due to ongoing negotiations between its players and management.

“This is wonderful,” she said. “We had hoped for 800, and we have gone way beyond that, double.”

People still poured in to buy tickets even as lights blinked to warn people to take their seats and musical director/conductor Michael Butterman excused himself from the lobby, where had been chatting with concertgoers.

The player-management talks go on, but an agreement was reached to put on three events — the “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” on Saturday, the “Cirque de la Symphonie” on March 5 at Riverview, and “A Keyboard Extraveganza” on May 15 at First Baptist Church of Shreveport.

Some in the crowd were just thankful to have a city symphony to cheer on, while others were there for specific items on the program.

Leonard Kacenjar, music director and conductor of the Marshall (Texas) Symphony Orchestra and a long-time figure in the Shreveport music scene, was looking forward to the evening’s second number, Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto in D, opus 35,” with guest soloist Jennifer Frautschi.

“It’s a long time in the coming,” said Kacenjar. “It’s amazing, and what a great crowd too.”

Kacenjar’s orchestra has a concert scheduled Feb. 22. And the Shreveport concerts, which pay players for services — not only concerts but practices also — help bolster his base as well.

“There are a lot of the same players over in Marshall, so I’m excited about this. I’m tickled to death to see this come down.”

Local violinist Leah Sayad, a fresh Centenary College graduate, played with the orchestra at Hurley School of Music and now is with orchestra at First United Methodist Church in Shreveport.

“I’m excited to see them. I know a lot of the players and have been waiting for them to come back. But I’m especially looking forward to the violin concerto.”

Charles Moore, of Shreveport, stood in line for his ticket. And while not an every-show attendee in the past, he hopes to steadily attend future performances.

“It’s about time for live music. I’m looking forward to the violin concerto.”

That would follow the “Festival Coronation March” and precede “Symphony No. 5 in E minor, opus 64,” taking up the entire second half of the performance.

Joe and Kaylon Gates came from south Bossier City.

“We’re thrilled,” Kaylon Gates said, adding that her 14-year-old son Samuel “was the first to say ‘Can we please go?’”

For her, “just being back in the Symphony Hall with the music playing and having a great evening is enough.”

She, too, anticipated the violin concerto.

But for husband Joe, the whole bill was inviting. “I’m looking forward to all the songs and to a wonderful evening.”
Additional Facts
What’s ahead

The “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” concert performed Saturday at Riverview Theater will be broadcast in full on Red River Radio, including Shreveport radio station KDAQ-FM, at noon Feb. 19.
Future Shreveport Symphony Orceshtra concerts will be held at 7:30 p.m. March 5 at Riverview Theater, 600 Clyde Fant Memorial Parkway, and 7:30 p.m. May 15 at First Baptist Church, 543 Ockley Drive in Shreveport.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Like Father, Like Daughter

I had heard of Boris Berezovsky (pianist), born in 1969, who won the 1990 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. However, I did not know that he has an equally talented daughter, born in 1991, named Evelyne Berezovsky, also a pianist. We catch a glimpse of what each has to offer during rehearsals onstage in an outdoor theatre at La Roque D'Antheron in the Provence, France. These videos are an extraordinary opportunity to see the brilliance and wonderment that such talented musicians bring to their art and life. Listen and learn!

Evelyne Berezovsky, 2007

Boris Berezovsky, 2007

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Reliving Troubadour

Carole King and James Taylor appeared together on the NBC Today Show [20.1.10], reigniting the chemistry they experienced 40 years ago at the Troubadour in CA. They are embarking on a World Tour together.

Taylor and King remember The Troubadour

Jan. 20: James Taylor and Carole King talk about the Los Angeles club and a performance there that inspired the upcoming reunion tour.


Taylor joins King for Motown duet

Jan. 20: Singers James Taylor and Carole King perform "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow."

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

Friday, January 15, 2010

The notorious Manitoba native, Kenneth Leishman, organized a gold heist in 1966 that in today's value would have been worth more than 2 million $. The heist took place at the Winnipeg International Airport and consisted of loading gold bars from an airplane into a van, without being suspected until the gold shipment did not reach its expected destination.

A documentary about this daring petty thief was completed in 2005 and the link is below in the Glog feature.